Water surrounds and is part of us all. It covers the majority of our planet and makes up a significant portion of our bodies. Humans and water share many connections — biological, physiological, economic, emotional and professional. This is the idea behind Waterlust, a dynamic online film series launched in 2011 that blends water-related science, sport and art.

Given the imperiled state of many aquatic systems worldwide, platforms such as Waterlust are an important means of communicating and inspiring an increasingly active online population. “It’s all about impact,” said Waterlust founder and creative director Patrick Rynne, a Ph.D. candidate in applied marine physics at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). “We’re trying to inspire many people all over the world to take a moment out of their day to consider the importance of water in their life.”

Sourcing content from scientists and adventurers around the world, the program is run by Rynne along with fellow marine-science graduate student Fiona Graham and RSMAS alumna Jennah Caster. The current lineup of 22 short films was produced by eight self-taught filmmakers, and every sequence of the one- to five-minute-long videos was captured with GoPro cameras, the seemingly ubiquitous and magnificently useful adventure cameras.

“We always joke about how we don’t identify ourselves as filmmakers in the classical sense,” Rynne said. “We’re scientists and adventurers who bring cameras along for the ride. That’s the beauty of GoPro cameras — you can get out and do your thing without the equipment getting in the way. The result is a very genuine and intimate perspective of whatever is being captured.”

The films, however, are anything but amateur, and they tell an astonishing variety of stories. Some highlight the appreciation that ocean athletes such as surfers and kiteboarders have for their medium, while others reveal the perspective of marine scientists and reflect their personal connection to their subject, whether it’s sharks or ocean currents. What unites the Waterlust videos is a fresh and epic style that plays out as a rapid yet memorable audiovisual adventure served with a dash of adrenaline and grandeur.

A dog is on a stand-up paddleboard with its human and having the best day

So far, Rynne and company’s recipe at Waterlust has been working, garnering hundreds of thousands of views worldwide, grabbing the attention of GoPro and earning screenings at some of the world’s top film festivals. Perhaps most important, the series has the potential to engage people who may not already be part of the movement to preserve the marine environment.

“That’s really the challenge we’re trying to make headway on,” Rynne said. “If you’re standing in a room giving a lecture or a talk about environmental issues, there is a good chance that the people in your audience already care about it. The fact that they are even there tells you that, so we’re trying to chase down the people who aren’t in the room and get them thinking.”

Environmental and ocean literacy are desperately needed, and promoting them can be exciting and fun. That’s a central tenet of the Waterlust mission, and it’s a formula that’s gaining attention as more scientists realize the need to broaden their impact and communicate to the public. There are amazing stories happening in our oceans every day, and Waterlust is capturing and sharing them with the world.

© Alert Diver — Q4 Fall 2013